Rodrygo scores late as Real Madrid beats Rayo amid tributes to Vinícius Júnior
MADRID (AP) — Rodrygo scored an 89th-minute winner as Real Madrid defeated Rayo Vallecano 2-1 in a Spanish league match marked by tributes to Madrid forward Vinícius Júnior on Wednesday.
It was Madrid's first game since the latest case of racial abuse against Vinícius, who considered leaving the field Sunday after being insulted by Valencia fans.
Rodrygo celebrated by raising his right fist above his head in a stance against racism. He dedicated the goal to his Brazil teammate.
“We've gone through a lot together because we both left Brazil at a very young age,” Rodrygo said. “We came to this great club and won everything, and it's very sad to have to go through this situation. I wanted to salute Vini, he knows that I'm always by his side. We will keep fighting against racism.”
Madrid's players came to the field wearing Vinícius' No. 20 jersey, and a huge banner was displayed behind one of the goals with the words “We are all Vinicius. Enough is enough.”
Vinicius did not play because of a minor knee problem. Wearing street clothes, he came out briefly before the match to salute the fans and his teammates.
Karim Benzema opened the scoring at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in the 31st, with the visitors equalizing with Raúl de Tomás in the 84th.
The victory moved Madrid to second place ahead of Atletico Madrid, which drew 3-3 at Espanyol. Madrid hadn't won in two matches in all competitions, having been eliminated by Manchester City in the semifinals of the Champions League.
Rayo, which has lost three in a row, stayed in 11th place.
Espanyol scored three times in 15 minutes in the second half to rally from three goals down and earn the home draw against Atletico.
The result kept Espanyol second-to-last and in the relegation zone, three points from safety entering the final two rounds.
Getafe moved out of the bottom three with a 1-0 win at sixth-place Real Betis, with Omar Alderete scoring a 68th-minute winner to take the Madrid club to 16th place.
Getafe has the same 38 points as 17th-place Cadiz, which lost 2-0 at Villarreal. Valladolid, the first team inside the relegation zone, also has 38 points following its 3-1 win against champion Barcelona on Tuesday.
Villarreal kept alive its chances to catching fourth-place Real Sociedad for the final Champions League place. It stayed five points behind the Basque Country club.
The win over Espanyol would have secured Atletico second place. Antoine Griezmann scored one of the goals for Diego Simeone's team.
Last-place Elche, already relegated, drew 1-1 with ninth-place Sevilla at home.
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Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press